Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Scholarship | 2003
Transcription Literary figure of Bamberg's past penned 65 books



By BETTYLOU R. TERRY

T&D Correspondent


BAMBERG — Woodlands
Plantation, the home of South
Carolina author William
Gilmore Simms (1806-1870) lo-
cated four miles east of Bam-
berg, was the scene of a celebra-
tion of his 197th birthday on
April 16. The Historic Society of
Bamberg County and the Barn-
berg County Heritage Corridor
sponsored the event.
The highlight of the pro-
gram was historian Betty Jane
Miller of Barnwell, in period
costume complete with feath-
ered hat, reading poems by
Simms.
Simms wrote 65 books, often
revising some material years lat-
er, such as a poem to his late
wife. Miller noted that there
were 14 Simms children.
Edgar Allen Poe, the famous
poet, called Simms the most im-
portant writer of the 19th cen-
tury. Letters to Simms from
such noted people as George
Washington and Patrick Henry
were among the 10,000 books
in his library torched by the
stragglers after Gen. William T.
Sherman in the Civil War. Sher-
man had asked that the house
be saved.
The present house was raised
from that needless burning, but
the acreage has been reduced
from the original 4,000. The
family cemetery* remains a dis-
tance from the house. The area
where former slaves were buried
is now deeded to their descen-
dants. Recently, a burial for a
descendant was conducted in
the cemetery.
There is also a Simms Foun-
dation Scholarship given to an
African American graduating
from Bamberg County to be
used at any college of choice.
The Rev. Albert Middleton,
pastor at Mt. Cannel Methodist
Church, gave the invocation at
the April 16 celebration, fol-
lowed by the Pledge of Alle-
giance. Bamberg Mayor Alton
McCollum welcomed the group
of around 60 to the program,
followed by greetings from
Bamberg County Councilman
Johnny Williamson.
Next on the program was Joe
Jones, artist and soloist, who
sang "America The Beautiful."
Nancy Foster, president of
the Historic Society of Bamberg
County, related glimpses of
Simms' life. Professor Jonathan
Walsh, president of the Barn-
berg Arts Council, read poems
by the author.
Kay Maxwell, chair of the
Bamberg County Heritage Cor-
ridor Board of Directors, an-
nounced that the event would
be an annual affair, "hopefully
without the profusion of mos-
quitoes currently present."
Ronnie Maxwell delivered
greetings from the Bamberg
County Chamber of Com-
merce.
The closing spiritual, "Steal
Away" sung by Linda Hibbler,
added an atmosphere of Simms'
century.
Emma Ruth Dowling closed
with the benediction, followed
by Joe Jones leading in the
singing of "God Bless America."■ T&D Correspondent Bettylou R;
Terry can be reached by phone at
803-793-3381.


BETTYLOU R. TERRY/T&D

A sketch of South Carolina author William Gilmore Simms
(1806-1870), who spent summers at his wife's family's Wood-
lands Plantation in Bamberg County, was surrounded by liter-
ature about his life during a birthday celebration for him held
April 16. The event was sponsored by the Historic Society of
Bamberg County and the Bamberg County Heritage Corridor
Committee.




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